Johannes Alderse Baas, a young Dutch mechanical engineering student at the University of Applied Sciences in Windesheim, has an idea that has been on his mind for a while: using recycled and recyclable plastics to make a sustainable, lightweight and affordable urban bicycle.
A family affair
It was 2014, and Johannes was looking for ways to bring his idea to life. He asked his grandfather, a mechanical engineer and bike builder himself, for advice. Together, they set about designing a futuristic plastic bike as an alternative to aluminium bikes. The 1.0 prototype was completed in 2015 and a year later Johannes started production on 125 Dutchfiets - literally "Dutch bikes" - financed by a crowdfunding campaign. The plastic (PE) used to make the frame and wheels is easily recyclable and its production method is energy efficient. In addition, it is a cheap and lightweight, weatherproof, rust-free and low-maintenance material.
A sustainable mobility concept
Spurred on by this initial success, Johannes and his brother Benjamin rented a shed and modernised their facilities. Above all, they refined the first version of the bike, and set out looking for solutions to meet the needs of their customers. From then on, their bike would never stop evolving.
And that is truly Dutchfiets' DNA: constantly rethinking every part of their bike, the materials used, their origin, and more, in order to create ever more responsible and sustainable bikes. The 3.0 generation of Dutchfiets bikes was launched in 2020. In that model, the frame and wheels were made of recycled plastic (PE) that could easily be reshaped to make strong frames, with a greatly reduced carbon footprint, especially since the bike parts were produced locally in their workshop in Nijkerk. This allowed the brothers to create new prototypes, new shapes and quickly find solutions.
High-performance recycled plastics for a new kind of bike
The Dutch start-up - now called mtrl - did not stop there and joined forces with the German company Igus, a manufacturer of technical products made of high-performance plastics and a specialist in motion plastics. Together, they dreamed of going even further and revolutionising the world of cycling, thanks to Igus' expertise and global network of laboratories.
To create this brand-new bike, the two partners are launching an igus:bike platform, which offers bike manufacturers around the world the opportunity to collaborate on improving their technology. The platform is intended to become a contact point between manufacturers who want to make a plastic bike and experts in the relevant components, such as plastic frames, wheels, drivetrains and sprockets.
Towards a high-tech 100% plastic, environmentally-friendly and sustainable bike
By the end of 2022, version 4.0 of the mtrl Bike will be on the market. All moving parts - gears, belt drives, brakes, bearings and other technical components - will be made of high-performance plastics that do not require lubrication and do not rust.
More reliable, lighter, more aesthetically-pleasing, easier to produce, cleaner (with clean electrical energy) and with only European-made parts, version 4.0 will also be more recyclable than previous versions. Made almost entirely of plastic, the mtrl:bike will have a much longer lifespan: a new generation of bikes truly built to last.